Cabrera clubs Kluber again; Tigers storm past Indians

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — At least Corey Kluber has a sense of humor about it.

Asked how he pitches to Miguel Cabrera, he deadpanned, "You are asking the wrong guy."

Probably so.

Kluber, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, gave up a 450-foot home run into the second row of shrubbery in center field to Cabrera that started the Tigers on their way to a rain-delayed 8-1 win Sunday.

It was the 20th hit and fifth home run Cabrera has hit off Kluber. No player has done more damage against the Indians ace.

Cabrera, as is his way, didn't want to talk about his long home run or his success against Kluber.

"We win, that's more important," said Cabrera, who came in hitting .361 with 39 homers and 126 RBIs in 138 games against the Indians. "Doesn't matter if it's far or short. We got a win. That's the point. When we don't win, you guys get in our heads, talking like we aren't good players.

"What does that mean, far or not far? I don't care if it's far."

What he and the Tigers do care about, though, is that it was the seventh win in nine games against the Indians this season and it's the eighth series the Tigers have won in 11 against AL Central foes.

"Every game is important with the two wild cards, but playing against your division is a little more important," Ian Kinsler said. "Any time you win a game against somebody in your division it's a good feeling. We try to play our best baseball every day, but you always want to show well against your division."

The Tigers actually notched a pair of wins Sunday; they beat the rain and they beat the Indians. The rain, as it turned out, was the more daunting opponent.

With heavy rains forecasted and slowly moving into the area, the Tigers posted two early runs against Kluber and raced to complete the requisite 4">1/2"> innings to make it official.

"We didn't say anything to each other," Kinsler said. "It might have been on our minds. You try to play the game the right way, but it's definitely on your mind. You could see it. It was rolling in pretty heavy, dark cloud rolling in. We knew we only had a certain amount of time."

In the fourth inning, all four Tigers hitters swung at the first pitch, including Cabrera, who knocked it into the bushes in center for his 14th home run of the year.

Box score: Tigers 8, Indians 1

Tigers starter Alfredo Simon did his part, quickly dispatching the Indians hitters, allowing just three hits through the top of the fifth.

"You try to be a little quick," said Simon, who improves to 7-3. "I know the rain was coming but, after delay, like two hours, I knew that was not going to be good for me if I go out there again."

When umpire and crew chief Joe West called for the tarp and suspended play, the Tigers went to the clubhouse with a 2-0 win ready to be validated. An hour and 51 minutes later, however, the rains ceased and the Tigers were left to finish the job. Which they did.

J.D. Martinez hit a three-run home run, his 12th, in the sixth and the Tigers scored three more in the eighth, keyed by a two-run double from Bryan Holaday, to expand the lead.

"A two-run lead to a five-run lead at that point in the game is a big difference," manager Brad Ausmus said. "That's an enormous boost to the team. And really Blaine Hardy coming in for two innings was also enormous at the time."

Hardy, who took the loss on Saturday, threw two scoreless innings while the Tigers expanded the lead.

Mother Nature provided most of the atmospheric malfeasance Sunday, but Cabrera provided his own brand of fireworks. He hit the 450-foot blast two days after hitting one 454 feet into the camera well in center.

"There's not many no-doubters that go to that part of the park at Comerica," Ausmus said. "That's two in a series and if you didn't have Miguel Cabrera here, you'd be lucky to see two in a season."